Preview of Windows 8.1

Windows 8.1 returns the Start button (Microsoft photo)

October 18, 2013 is the official launch date for Windows 8.1

One year after the launch of Microsoft’s revolutionary and controversial Windows 8, the next revision will arrive on October 18th, 2013.

In the video below, Microsoft is pitching the free update with three main features – return of the Start button, personalization of Start Screen tiles and multiple windows open at once.

If you already have Windows 8 on your computer, the Windows Store will have the update as a download 4:00am October 17th in Redmond, Washington.

There are reported to be 110 million users of Windows 8 who will get the upgrade free. Retail copies of the upgrade $120.

Despite the withering criticism Windows 8 received for many of the innovative features, like the Metro/Modern tiles, it has quietly and slowly climbed to 8% of all computer users worldwide.

Once people get past the shock of a new look, Windows 8 is quite easy. Frankly I found the Apple iPad confusing at first but you work past that. For a quick video primer, check out How To Use Windows 8 in 3 Minutes

All new computers come with Windows 8 and soon Windows 8.1 and most of them now have touchscreens, especially laptops and notebooks. Touchscreens, while not essential for Windows 8, do make it a more fun computing experience. About 25% of notebooks sold in the US back-to-school period before September 7th, 2013 had Windows 8 with touch screens.

Windows 8.1 will be an incremental improvement over Windows 8. More about that later.

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